Wright State graduate student Ian Kallay has been named the 2014 Ohio Liberator of the Year for his efforts to put an end to human trafficking.
Kallay received his award on Jan. 19 at the third annual Ohio Liberator Awards ceremony, which honored individuals for their involvement in fighting against human trafficking. The Ohio Liberator Awards were sponsored by Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution, an organization founded by Theresa Flores, a survivor of human trafficking.
Last summer Ian Kallay biked across the United States with his brother, Shane, driving by his side to raise public awareness of human trafficking.
“It was cool. I was not expecting anything. I was not doing it [raising awareness] for an award,” Ian Kallay said.
Kallay graduated from Wright State last spring with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and is now working on his master’s degree in engineering innovation and entrepreneurship.
Before his journey began, Kallay went on a mission trip to Africa and saw how people treasured what people in the United States throw away. “At 16, my perspective changed. I also read a book on modern day slavery called ‘Be the Change’ by Zach Hunter, who was 15 when he wrote it,” Kallay said.
After being exposed to challenges that people in other parts of the world face, Kallay decided that he wanted to help people.
“I wanted to make a difference, and so I prayed and did research. I wanted to motivate people to better themselves,” he said. “Everyone is enslaved to something. If our chains aren’t pulling us forward, they’re pulling us back.”
With his face lighting up, Kallay inspires others to consider that “everything you do creates a purpose in your life.”
Kallay said he admires all the individuals nominated for Ohio Liberator Awards who are doing their part to help. “People are making a difference by doing what they love, and they are doing what they love for human trafficking,” he said.
In an old and fancy winery, with dimmed lights and a bowtie around his neck, Kallay heard his name called to receive the 2014 Ohio Liberator of the Year award. “I had to give a speech that I didn’t even know was coming,” he said, laughing.
Kallay admitted that he could not have cycled across the country without the help from his brother.
There are many quotes people know about making ripple effects in the lives of others. Kallay said he plans his next adventure by considering that “in life, we all want to make ripples of remembrance; but I say ‘screw the ripples, let’s make some waves.’”
He plans to swim across all five Great Lakes this summer in hopes of raising $50,000 toward the cause.